The international break has done nothing to dampen the enthusiastic and obsessive press with anything to do with Arsenal. Speculation on the January transfer window amounting to a zero spend. Arsenal’s contingency plans should they dispense with Unai Emery and likely appointment of Freddie Ljungberg as a permanent or interim coach were the pick of the bunch.
And it’s probably the Ljungberg story that interests supporters the most because Freddie has always been associated with the glory days and epitomises Wenger’s years of success.
Of course, he has done incredibly well in his roles thus far and it came as no surprise when he was appointed Emery’s assistant after his days in charge of the under 23’s.
He is very much an Arsenal man, someone that has deep and lasting connections with the club. Ljungberg was an integral part of Wenger’s football philosophy and was the type of exciting footballer that Wenger often plucked from obscurity in his heyday.
Ljungberg is a disciple of the Wenger ways and had the good fortune to play with a host of exceptional individuals and fans wouldn’t object to a former Arsenal player that was blessed with talent and passion taking the reigns eventually.
When Wenger left, there were a list of familiar names as long as your arm, which included the likes of Henry, Vieira, Bergkamp and Arteta, none of which Arsenal were brave enough to employ.
During that time, Ljungberg just kept working quietly away establishing a talented young team and developing their skills, none of which went unnoticed. He has had a influence on a number of emerging players such as Joe Willock, Emile Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka and he’s certainly helped their transition to the first team but taking the role of coach is a big ask, even if it’s three or four years away.
You may mention Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard as examples of new and inexperienced managers that are coping well in the limelight, but Lampard is facing difficult times at Chelsea and hasn’t been tested yet. Gerrard is fashioning a competitive Rangers but by a similar rule of thumb, he is manager of one of the top two teams in the Scottish premiership along with a host of no hopers and also rans.
If he moved to the English Premier League, would he be as successful ?
Ole Gunner Solskjaer is probably a better comparison because he too was a fan favourite. Coached by the legendary Alex Ferguson and with a full understanding of the internal workings of the club, United employed the man who’s only real experience at the top level was being unable to prevent Cardiff’s relegation from the Premier League.
That association is being fully tested at present and it’s not more than an arms length away from failure, which is something that Arsenal supporters should remember when insisting on change.
Emery will be allowed considerable latitude to get Arsenal back on track, but he has a wealth of experience behind him to fall back on. Ljungberg may well get his chance but caution says that may not be for another four or more years at best.
During which time he will grow and cement his own approach to a possible promotion in the future but as we’ve seen, gaining coaching badges is one thing but being able to coach a side at a top level can leave a degree of egg on the face, just ask Thierry Henry.
When Mikel Arteta was being considered for the role, it was felt that it was too soon, even if he was under the wing of Pep Guardiola.
There are few names out there that would make a shortlist for the manager’s role at Arsenal should the club and Emery part company, but they are already in work at the highest level and are handsomely rewarded for their efforts.
That leaves a gap for emerging coaches who will claim the limelight after Guardiola and Klopp have long gone. Is Ljungberg one of those coaches, who knows but his own development looks very promising to say the least.